Anti-gang unit off to a flying start, says delighted Cele

29 November 2018 - 16:03 By Philani Nombembe
Minister of police Bheki Cele.
Minister of police Bheki Cele.

Police Minister Bheki Cele is ecstatic over the “successes” of the newly launched anti-gang unit.

Cele – who was accompanied by his deputy Bongani Mkongi, national commissioner Khehla Sithole and the top echelons of the police service – spoke about the unit’s feats in Mitchells Plain on Thursday.

The unit was launched by President Cyril Ramaphosa in gang-ridden Hanover Park on November 2.

Cele said so far the unit had made 119 arrests for crimes ranging from possession of drugs and unlicensed firearms to murder. It had seized R120,000 in cash and 14 vehicles.

“The goal is to dismantle the criminal enterprise of gangs with the intention to eradicate the economic profits generated by the defined organised criminality ,” said Cele.

“In one incident, six members of the Fancy Boys gang were arrested for possession of three firearms and drugs to the value of R1m. The amount of work done thus far is acknowledged, while we realise a lot still needs to be done with local communities embracing efforts to create safe and secure environments for all.”

Cele said the police, in partnership with the criminal justice cluster, had “successfully” opposed bail applications after arrests made by the unit. Work had begun to set up courts dedicated to gang-related cases.

Children must feel safe to jump around in the streets and parks, with ropes and balls, and not jump around to dodge gangster bullets.

“Furthermore, we are also engaging the Department of Correctional Services in monitoring gang-related activities of the ‘number gang’ inmates - namely 26s, 27s and 28s - and to share common information with us,” he said.

“The objective with the establishment of [the gang unit] is to create a new normal... where our children are allowed to be children, to be safe and secure, and women are respected, protected and validated as women.

"Children must feel safe to jump around in the streets and parks, with ropes and balls, and not jump around to dodge gangster bullets.”

Cele said his address was dedicated to victims of gender-based violence, “a bubbly six-year-old who was killed in Mitchells Plain and one-year-old Taswell Junior Nel from Cafda Village in Steenberg, who was shot and killed by a member of the JFKs gang”.  

On Tuesday, the SA Police Union said it had withdrawn an application it launched in the Labour Court in Johannesburg over the establishment of the gang unit. General secretary Tumelo Mogodiseng said this was after  police management conceded  it had failed to consult all stakeholders before launching the unit.

“This reckless action by the management has forced us to take the legal route to protect one of the most important aspects in the life of the trade union movement, the collective bargaining process,” said Mogodiseng.

“We would like to warn the management that the reckless action and arrogance of those in authority would not be left unchallenged. In future. Such actions will have consequences.”